Quakes play to 1-1 draw in Colorado

September 25, 2011, 3:45 am
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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. Its become all too familiar for the Earthquakes. For the seventh time in 12games this season, they took the lead, only to drop points at the final whistle. In a rematch ofthe 2010 Eastern Conference final against defending champion Colorado Rapids,the Earthquakes took a first half lead through Chris Wondolowski, only torelinquish it in the second half, leading to a second consecutive 1-1 draw. I think that the result was probably fair in the end but Ifelt for a good 55, 60 minutes that we shouldve scored more than one goal, soIm kind of disappointed we didnt, Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop saidto reporters after the game. Despite more positive play and a series of chances to scoremore than one goal, the Earthquakes could not find a way to beat Colorado goalkeeper MattPickens again after he spilled a rebound off a dipping shot from KhariStephenson in the 18th minute, allowing Wondolowski an easy finish.Khari has a great shot and he was able to find a littlespace and hit it on frame, Wondolowski said of his strike. To be honest itcame out pretty hot, it was a pretty good rebound, but Ill take those anyday. The goal was Wondolowskis 32nd for theEarthquakes, tying him for second with Landon Donovan for second on thefranchises all-time scoring list.Its right now a little bittersweet, Wondolowski said, ofhis record. Its a true honor, Donovan is a great player and I know how muchit means to the fans and the club and I appreciate it, but I really wish Icouldve gotten another one or taken that win.On the defensive end, the Earthquakes played well in the runof play, catching the Rapids offside eight times while not conceding a corneruntil the 69th minute of the game. By playing a high defensive lineand having full backs with speed, the Earthquakes were largely able to containthe threats of fast players like Omar Cummings and Sanna Nyassi. We try to make sure were compact and we hold a high linebecause we dont want to get the game stretched, especially against teams like Colorado, Yallop saidof his teams defensive showing. I thought we did a nice job of holding ahigh-ish line, but making sure we broke back to cover them. While one of Coloradosstrengths has been quickness down the wings and up top, the speed of San Jose full backs StevenBeitashour and Justin Morrow did help the team match its opponent for speed. Theyre fast players, so you always have to be on your toesand ready to face your own goal and start a foot race, and get back, so itsnot easy, Beitashour said. Despite not conceding a corner until midway through thesecond half, the series of corners following Colorados first of the game provided thehome team with their way back. After Jon Busch made two impressive stops tokeep the Rapids out, he could do nothing to prevent Drew Moor from cleaningthings up to tie the game in the 71st minute. If it had been 2-0 I think it would have been a lot harderfor Colorado to get back in the game, but you know, give credit to them, theygot their goal and then had some chances at the end, Yallop added. But Istill think that the game all hinged on our inability to score the secondgoal. Wondolowski had an excellent chance to extend theEarthquakes lead on 36 minutes when he found himself alone in front of Pickensafter a chipped pass from Simon Dawkins. However, Pickens was quick off hisline and turned Wondolowskis effort out for a corner. In the second half, theteams best chance when Stephenson took a coat of paint off the far post with alow shot, only to see it go out for a goal kick.While Yallop and his players highlighted the teamsinability to get a second goal as a key factor in the teams struggles to holda lead, Yallop also pointed to other, more circumstantial factors in Saturdayevenings game. I think we ran out of gas in the end, at altitude and withthe third game in a week with the same unit, Yallop added. Perhaps even more frustrating than the Earthquakes beingunable to hold a lead this season not a typical phenomenon for a FrankYallop-coached team is the fact that the team has largely improved itsperformances over the past month or two with little to show for it. Weve moved the ball real well in the last seven, eightnine games really well, Yallop said. I think we played terrific in Portland on Wednesdaynight and very unlucky not get more than a point out of that one. Kind of thesame story tonight. Following two straight draws during the week, theEarthquakes now have 31 points, eight points out of a playoff spot at the timeof writing. With four games left and five teams standing in the way of the 10thand final spot, the teams playoff chances are alive only by the slimmest ofmargins, and face elimination when it hosts Sporting Kansas City on Oct.1.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings,you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

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